IRELAND’S advantages as a producer of quality beef were showcased very positively last week to European retailers at the Bord Bia Meat Forum.
Based in the lush rural farmlands of Co Kilkenny, the retailers visited nearly a dozen farms where production of Irish beef was seen at its best.
The acid test will be conversion of the positive vibes into orders for Irish beef from the 200 of Europe’s major purchasers of beef represented in Kilkenny, who have combined purchasing power of €220 billion per annum.
And the next challenge will be finding adequate supplies of high quality beef to fill those orders.
Processors are finding it hard enough now to fill their orders, even though demand for the scarce supplies has driven the strongest trade in more than a generation, with cattle prices at their highest ever. The problem is that those prices are not much better than the prices of two decades ago, during which cattle farming costs have increased, reaching new high levels over the past year. Record prices for fertiliser and feed have come on top of increasing costs to deliver the higher quality and traceability demanded by markets now.
The net result is much tighter profit margins on cattle farms.
Unless these profit margins are increased, finding a supply of Irish beef will remain as big a challenge to processors as generating demand.
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